$8 million gift nets Detroit new police, EMS vehicles

Aug 22, 2013

Detroit has a substantial number of brand-new police and EMS vehicles—and they come as a donation from the city’s business community.

Some of Detroit’s most prominent business people ponied up $8 million worth of new vehicles to the city through the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

One of the biggest donors—automotive retailer and racing magnate Roger Penske.

Penske says the group isn’t just funding the 100 new police cruises and 23 ambulances. They’ve formed partnerships with Detroit’s three automakers—who also contributed to the effort, and help provide maintenance.

The city’s fleet has been notoriously plagued with chronic maintenance issues and dilapidated equipment.

“With the support of the Big 3, and their maintenance capabilities…they will continue to take care of the vehicles.

“These are people that are committed to our city. We love our city.”

Detroit mayor Dave Bing says this proves the city’s business community is “part of the larger community,” noting these vehicles will primarily service the city’s neighborhoods.

“These business leaders understand how important the neighborhoods are,” Bing said. “And I think with these vehicles behind us, they are going to be dedicated to our neighborhoods, not just downtown or midtown.”

Though now largely sidelined by emergency manager Kevyn Orr, Bing has recently touted some success he’s had raising private funds for some city improvements.

One of the new Detroit Police cruisers
One of the new Detroit Police cruisers
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Along with this donation, Bing has also mounted a campaign to raise private sector campaign up the city’s parks and recreation centers. He said this week that effort has raised $12 million so far.

But Bing said he’s leery about asking too much from the business community.

“It is not the business community’s responsibility to fund everything in Detroit,” Bing said.  “I’m not going to constantly go back to the business community, except in situations where I know we’re in dire need.”

When the donation was first announced in March, business leaders indicated they would lease the vehicles for the city. But Penske said they decided to donate them directly instead.

Officials said some of the new vehicles will hit the streets as soon as next week. Penske said they all should be in service within the next three months.